How to Lay Engineered Wood Floors
Flooring expert Jeff Hosking shows how easy it is to install this tough man-made flooring
Jeff Hosking, a flooring consultant for This Old House, first began laying floors 35 years ago. Back then, 90 percent of his work was installing solid-wood strips with nails. But now, half of the flooring he installs is engineered—made of thin sheets of wood glued together like plywood.
Solid wood is classic and can last a century, but engineered flooring offers a quicker, easier way to get a new floor, and it comes with a durable factory-applied finish.
Because it's laminated, it's more stable than solid wood, so you can put it over concrete or radiant floors, and not worry about warping. And Hosking says the finishes are far more durable than anything he can apply on-site.
Top-of-the-line engineered strips range from about $8 to $12 per square foot. That's higher than solid-wood planks, but homeowners can offset the expense by tackling the installation themselves.
Engineered Wood Floors Overview
To estimate how much flooring to buy, calculate the square footage and add a waste allowance: 5-7 percent for straight-course floors; 15 percent for a herringbone. For metric materials, 1 sqaure meter equals about 10½ square feet.
Take an inventory of all edges that won't be covered by exisiting trim, including hearths, stairs, cabinets, or openings such as foloor registers or outlets. Order enough factory finished trim to cover these edges.
Let flooring acclimate in open boxes for 3-4 days in the room where it will be laid.Wait at least a week before opening boxes in areas with new drywall or plaster. Don't store flooring in basements or garages; it might absorb moisture.
"Try to run the flooring parallel to the longest wall in a room," says Hosking. "It makes the space seem bigger."
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